It's Christmas Day and no doubt some of you have already dug into the gifts piled under your tree. But everyone knows Santa Claus reads all the letters he receives, so this one might arrive just early enough for him to heap a few more on his sleigh.
If our opinion counts, we believe most of our city deserves to be on the nice list this year. That includes our traffic lights, which have done a far better job of controlling traffic flow since the city began experimenting with real-time traffic data at certain intersections to improve signal timing. It might not be perfect, especially at rush hour, but it's a heck of a lot better than it used to be.
The intersection at Boudreau and the Trail deserves a spot on the nice list this year as well. Although the city hasn't completed paving at that intersection yet, nobody should complain about the extra room drivers have now that the intersection has been widened.
For our various leaders and representatives – provincial, federal and municipal – we would ask Santa to bestow upon them gifts of extra compassion, wisdom and fortitude, respectively, in 2020 as they face monumental challenges at all levels of government.
Our first Christmas wish goes to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who tackled the province's ballooning deficit with a hatchet. Unfortunately, Alberta's most vulnerable people didn't escape the cuts as Kenney de-indexed benefits for people who have severe disabilities. May 2020 bring Kenney a little more compassion as he reduces spending further, and a keen eye for cost efficiencies to keep cuts off the backs of those who are struggling the most.
Our second Christmas wish goes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who can use a little extra wisdom and discernment as he tries to navigate the rocky waters of a minority government. This gift, if used properly, could also help Trudeau avoid another SNC-Lavalin scandal. May 2020 bring him significantly less photo ops and significantly more attention to Canada's – and Alberta's – economic instability. He can start by approving Teck's Frontier oilsands mine.
The next wish is to be shared by Mayor Cathy Heron and St. Albert's city councillors as they await a provincial budget in the spring that could bring more ill tidings for St. Albert's bottom line. May they have the strength to steel themselves for some potentially painful decisions, remembering always that taxpayers need a break in these difficult economic times.
Our final Christmas wishes for our local leaders is that the ghost of the municipal utility corporation lies undisturbed in 2020 and that St. Albert's foray into waste-to-energy finds a benevolent private partner willing to shoulder the risk that would otherwise be asked of St. Albert taxpayers.
As for all the residents who make St. Albert so special, we wish you the most merry of Christmases and a Happy New Year.